ATHENS, Ga. – Despite not holding a lead until the three-minute mark, the University of Georgia men’s basketball team rode a second-half comeback to a 72-65 victory over Chattanooga Wednesday afternoon before 7,918 spectators at Stegeman Coliseum.
Georgia (9-3) was led in scoring by junior Kario Oquendo, who tallied a season-high 22 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Senior Terry Roberts broke into double-figures scoring for the fifth-straight game, finishing with 14 points and a team-best six assists, while reigning SEC Player of the Week Braelen Bridges notched 12 points. For the game, the Bulldogs shot 45 percent from the field and dominated points in the paint by a 32-8 margin.
“So many things to improve upon, but really proud of the fight down the stretch,” Georgia head coach Mike White said following the game. “Kario Oqueno, was fantastic, making huge plays…Lot of things that we didn’t do well, but with that said, Chattanooga is really good. They’re going to have a good chance, in my opinion, of playing in the NCAA Tournament.”
Chattanooga (8-5) started the game on a torrent, hitting three 3-pointers in less than two minutes to force an early Georgia timeout. With another trey, the Mocs extended their lead to 14-6, but a five-minute scoring drought helped get the Bulldogs back into the game. Capped off by a Frank Anselem dunk, Georgia reduced the margin to 18-16 by the under-8 timeout.
After seeing their lead lower to one point, the Mocs’ strong outside shooting reappeared, helping them build back the lead late in the first half. Three straight jumpers from Bridges limited the damage and allowed for a 6-2 Georgia run to close out the half with Chattanooga leading, 33-30.
Georgia twice narrowed the score to one point early in the second half, including a ferocious fast break dunk from Oquendo, yet Chattanooga’s lead hovered around eight under the 13-minute mark. The Bulldogs again made it a one-point contest with seven unanswered, culminating in a 3-pointer from seventh-year Jailyn Ingram. A layup from Roberts wrapped up a subsequent 5-0 run and tied the game at 50.
With seven minutes to play, Georgia again tied the game, but Chattanooga’s 13th triple of the afternoon moved it back in front, 58-55. After forcing a shot clock violation, the Bulldogs knotted the game with consecutive scores from Oquendo and junior Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, followed on the next possession by a critical block from junior Jabri Abdur-Rahim.
Coming out of the final media break, Oquendo gave Georgia its first lead of the game with a pair of free throws. Both teams then traded threes with Chattanooga tying the game at 63 before Oquendo connected from the top of the key to give the Bulldogs the advantage for good with 1:48 remaining. With a series of successful trips to the line, Georgia clinched the comeback victory.
Georgia closes its non-conference slate with a matchup against Rider next Wednesday, Dec. 28 at Stegeman Coliseum. The game is set to tip at 7 p.m. and will stream live on SEC Network+.